6-Traits Lessons

6-Traits Lessons

Mini-lessons to teach the 6 Traits

Your gateway to the Idea Library
Trait of Ideas Mini-Lessons
Elaborate effectively on a single topic to convey a clear message.
Trait of Organization Mini-Lessons
Reveal ideas in logical order, including a beginning, middle, and end.
Trait of Voice Mini-Lessons
Increase reader engagement with intentional writer feeling, attitude, and emotion.
Trait of Word Choice Mini-Lessons
Use the right word in the right place to convey just the right meaning.
Trait of Sentence Fluency Mini-Lessons
Improve the readability of a piece with complete thoughts and sentence variety.
Trait of Conventions Mini-Lessons
Follow the rules of capitalization, spelling, grammar, and punctuation to make writing more correct.

Execute 6-Traits Mini-Lessons in Four Steps

Whole-class mini-lessons are the gold standard for teaching K-12 writing skills. Identify a single, small skill to teach within each short, 10 to 15-minute lesson. Lessons should be short or “mini” because students don’t get better listening to the lesson. They don’t become better writers in the lesson. They get better after the lesson when they’re attempting the skill and working to incorporate it into their own writing.

Within a 10-15 minute lesson, the teacher should execute 4 steps.

Step 1: Introduction
Announce the day’s mini-lesson skill. CAUTION! Remember to keep the focus small. For example, don’t teach grammar in a mini-lesson, but rather how to incorporate a prepositional phrase into a sentence. Don’t teach report writing in a mini-lesson, but rather how to reference a source within a paragraph. 

Step 2: Instruction
This next step provides the meat of the lesson. This is where the teacher demonstrates how to do the skill through modeling, examples, and Think Alouds. The goal of instruction is to intentionally teach students how to execute a particular writing skill. In this step, the teacher works alone to demonstrate and explain the skill specifically. (In terms of the gradual release of responsibility, this is the “I do, you watch” part of the lesson.)

Step 3: Interaction
If Step 2 is the “I do,” then Step 3 is the “We do.” During this part of the lesson, the whole class works together to apply the skill with the teacher close by to provide support.

After demonstrating the skill back in Step 2, utilize different examples here in Step 3. For example, reveal different sentences for students to include prepositional phrases. Show additional paragraphs for the class to incorporate cited sources into. 

Step 4: Closure
Step 4 closes the mini-lesson and sets students up for a response activity. After the “I do” (Step 2) and the “We do” (Step 3), it’s time for the “You do” (Step 4).  Identify what you want students to do with the skill on their own. While writing today, I’d like you to…

Remember, the students don’t get better during the lesson—It’s after the lesson when they practice the skill that they improve their abilities. Consequently, keep the lesson short.

The four steps of an effective mini-lesson are married to the gradual release of responsibility. However, do not expect students to master a literacy skill in one 15-minute lesson. Plan a multi-day series where you execute the 4 steps each day, shifting the responsibility as the students get better and better. The “I do” portion (Step 2) will get shorter and shorter. The “We do” component (Step 3) will get harder and more sophisticated. And the “You do” tasks (Step 4) become even more independent.
If you want to begin planning your mini-lessons utilizing these four steps, access this Word document and type directly into it. NOTE: This template includes three days/three mini-lessons focused on one skill. This allows you to plan a multi-day series.

6-Traits of Writing Mini-Lesson Template

Six-Traits Starter Lessons
Download six free lessons to get started with the Six Traits of Writing!